Since ditching my anonymity, I’ve received inquiries from a few people asking for me to gauge whether or not they are sociopathic. The phenomenon is interesting and, frankly, unexpected, but ultimately I am not in the diagnosis business. Even if I were, I would not explicitly state my opinion to anyone seeking my advice for such a crucial question. I believe that true growth and knowledge comes from asking the uncomfortable questions necessary to find one’s orientation – be it gender identity, sexual orientation, or whether or not a person is anti-social. To do otherwise is to rob oneself of an important experience.
I was a tutor for most of my college years. People would come in all the time and ask me to work out a mathematics problem for them. I could easily tell the difference between those that were seeking to regurgitate versus those that were genuinely interested in learning. The former would quickly get my ire as regurgitation is not learning. The latter would get my resources, above and beyond the call of a typical tutor, as I truly wanted to see them grow as individuals and in the field of their studies.
And, unlike the mathematics areas that I would tutor, there is not necessarily a hard and fast answer to questions of proclivity and identity. Short of having a brain scan to look for various activity in the prefrontal cortex, diagnosis is an inexact science. I would be lying if I said that I knew for certain whether another person was a sociopath. I may know “family” when I see it, but even then it is not certain. I can merely accept my own thoughts and the experiences of the person seeking my advice.
So no, I will never tell another person whether I think they are sociopathic – regardless of what I actually think. Impressions are unavoidable, but we can choose to not let such impressions shape our view of another person. I try to remain objective and I expect others to do the same. To depend on another for your own beliefs and identity is to rob yourself of the gratification and knowledge gained from enduring the journey yourself. Yes, we can even deceive ourselves, but at least the only voice in play is our own.
That said, I do enjoy sharing my knowledge on the topic. I just, simply, will not give “answers” to questions that only the one asking truly knows the answer to.